On February 8, 1915, after
receiving a pledge from the RFC to have
two Farman Aircraft sent to
to support the Indian Armies campaign
there, the Indian Army requested airmen
Government to fly the aircraft.
Australia sent four pilot and fifty
mechanics. New Zealand sent an Army
Officer who would fly as Observer. The
was known to the Australians and the
Flying Corps as the Mesopotamian Half
seems to have been known to the British
14th - Captain H.A Petre leaves for
Bombay as the advance Officer.
April 20th - Captain T.W. (Tom) White
takes temporary command of the Half
Flight in Petre's absence and White,
Treloar and thirty seven other ranks
sail on the Morea for Bombay.
May 3rd - The Quarter Master Sergeant
and three mechanics depart with motor
transport on the Ulysses for
May 26th - The Mesopotamian Half Flight
arrives from Bombay in the recently
built aerodrome at Basra. The aircraft
available at their arrival includes
Maurice Farman Longhorn and Shorthorn
aircraft bought by the Rajah of Gwalior
for the allied effort. The Mesopotamian
Half Flight is joined by two Indian Army
Officers, Captain H.L. Reilly and
Captain P.W.L. Broke-Smith as well as
the New Zealander Lieutenant W.W.A.
May 31st - Captain H.A. Petre carries
out the first flight of the Half Flight
with Lieutenant W.W.A. Burn as Observer.
Petre and Burn area accompanied by
another aircraft with Major H.L. Reilly
of the Indian Flying Corps and Captain
June 3rd - The Turkish held town of
Amara falls to pressure from allied
troops despite extreme heat and
temperatures through the period.
Temperatures often maintaining 120
June 9th - The Mesopotamian Half Flight
move to a new aerodrome at Amara. The
two Farman aircraft are to suffer engine
problems through this period and are
often both grounded indefinitely.
June 13th - Lieutenant G.P. Merz,
detained in Point Cook Australia on
instructional duties joins the
Mesopotamian Half Flight at Basra. Due
to the multi-force
nature of the Mesopotamian Half Flight,
Flying Corps members are given Royal
Flying Corps commissions with the
Flying Corps ranks and are temporarily
appointed to the Indian Army. The two
Indian Army Officers with Half Flight
are given temporary commissions as
Majors, with Broke-Smith being given the
title, "Deputy-Assistant-Director of
Aviation, and Reilly the Flight
Commander. Rank, position and title
being extremely important as always to
the older military structures.
June 15th - The beginning of the season
when "Shamal" blows. Shamal is a string
seasonal wind that blows from the North
North West at a consistent thirty to
forty miles an hour. The aircraft of the
time were only capable of 50 miles an
hour so travelling into a string Shamal
often meant the Farman and Martinsyde
aircraft were travelling backwards.
July 6th - Two Caudron aircraft, C.1 and
C.2 are added to the Mesopotamian Half
Flight's aircraft strength from Basra.
July 30th - The two Caudrons of the Half
Flight upon returning from an operation
are both forced down. The Caudron of the
Indian Flying Corps pilot Captain Reilly
lands at the village of Abu Salibiq,
fortunately among friendly Arabs. The
Caudron of Lieutenant G.P. Merz and
Lieutenant W.W.A. Burns was forced down
with engine trouble about 20 miles from
the refilling station amongst hostile
Arabs. After a shoot out with the Arabs
both Merz and Burns are killed. Friendly
Arabs who witnessed the gun fight retold
the incident to British authorities
later. Cutlacks Official History of the
Flying Corps remarks that the pair
fought a running battle of five miles in
which they killed one Arab and wounded
five others before being killed. White
led a group which tried to find the
Arabs that had shot Merz and Burns but
was unable to find the. White's group
burnt the house of the local Sheik in a
village where the Arabs were reported to
August 24th - 30 Sqn Royal Flying Corps
arrives with four Martinsyde S.1
aircraft from Egypt. The Mesopotamian
Half Flight was absorbed into the flight
strength 30 Sqn RFC as A Flight under
Captain H.A. Petre, B Flight consisted
of the newly arrived RFC personnel under
Captain A. Graves and 30 Sqn was
commanded by Major S.D. Massey.
August 29th - Captain H.A. Petre test
flies the Martinsyde and finds the
performance very poor, only achieving 50
mph and taking 23 minutes to reach 7000
feet. The Gnome engines in both the
Martinsydes and Caudrons performed
poorly in the extreme heat and
September ?? - 30 Sqn RFC moves to Ali
September ?? - A Naval Seaplane Flight
with three Short aircraft arrive from
East Africa under the command of
Squadron Commander R. Gordon, but are
unable to operate from the Tigris River.
Two are soon converted to land based
September 1st - A reinforcement of
thirteen mechanics under Sergeant G.J.W.
Mackinolty arrive sin Basra from
September 11th - Maurice Farman MF.1
crashes at Ali Gharbi during a bad
landing by a British pilot reducing the
squadron strength to three aircraft,
Caudron C.1 and Martinsydes 5 and 6.
September 13th - Martinsyde 5 crashes
while being tested in a high wind.
September 16th - Lieutenant W.H. Treloar
Flying Corps and Capt B.S. Aitkens of
the Indian Army in Caudron C.3 are
forced to land behind enemy lines. The
pair were captured by Arabs and handed
over to the Turkish. Treloar was to
survive being a Prisoner of War and go
on to found the
War Memorial. The Treloar Building being
named after him.
September 25th - Captain T.W. White
flies the Maurice Farman MF.7 up for
Basra for the upcoming battle. Captain
H.A. Petre flies the Martinsyde 8 to the
advanced landing ground at Sanniyat but
crashes on arrival. Petre's crash leaves
only two aircraft, the Farman MF.7 and
Martinsyde 6, available to support
General Townsends planned attack on
Septemeber 26th - Photographs are taken
of Turkish positions in MF.7 but the
photographic paper the Half Flight has
at it's disposal is so poor to be
useless and the photographs are little
September 27th - General Townshend
launches his attack on Kut after out
flanking the Turkish positions at
September 30th - The three aircraft,
Maurice Farman MF.7
October 2nd - Captain H.A. Petre crashes
on landing Martinsyde 8. Major Reilly
writes in a report that the Martinsyde's
require a "croquet lawn" to land on with
October 5th - Major Reilly in a
Martinsyde flys up the river past
Aziziya and discovers the Turks have
halted and dug in at Ctesiphon.
October 6th - The three machines
remaining in the Squadron move to a
landing ground at Aziziya. Captain H.A.
Petre makes the first flight to Baghdad
and reports the city almost deserted.
October ?? - Three aircraft, two
Martinsydes and a Farman bombed a
hostile Arab encampment at Badrah that
had been located by the Seaplane flight.
The pilots dropped twenty bombs and
hastened the surrendering of the hostile
October ?? - Four BE2c aircraft arrive
as reinforcements along with pilots,
mechanics, stores and a repair section.
30 Squadron was split into A and B
Flights and an aircraft park was set up
at Basra to support operations. A Flight
moved to Aziziya while B Flight which
contained the Mesopotamian Half Flight
contingent moved to Kut.
October 18th - Engines are overhauled
every 27 hours of service but engine
failures are still high with the
unrealiable engines and the harsh
operating and maintenance conditions.
November 13th - Captain T.W. White and
Captain F. Yeats Brown were captured
behind enemy lines after a successful
mission to cut the telegraph wires near
Baghdad. The Farman would have been
pushing to make the return journey with
the fuel and load it had carried as it
was. White landed the Farman near a pole
but clipped the wing, damaging it. The
pair tried to taxi away from the
approaching Turks as White had done once
before but they were caught. White was
to write a book of his Prisoner of War
experiences with the Turks named,
"Guests of the Unspeakable".
November 21st - Two reconnaissance
flights are made, Major Reilly flying to
Baghdad and noticing a large Turkish
reinforcing Ctesiphon. Reilly is shot
down and the report never reaches
November 22nd - The allied attack on
Ctesiphon begins. Lieutenant Fulton of
30 Sqn RFC is shot down by ground fire
in Martinsyde S.1 No.8. Using a device
like a rake devised by Captain H.A.
Petre, Captain T.W. White has previously
located and mapped the vital point that
is used in the Ctesiphon attack. The
device was held to the forehead and the
pegs showed the degree of distance from
November 26th - The Flight attached to
Aziziya retreat to Kut and the two
flights are concentrated there.
November ?? - Captain T.W. White in
Maurice Farman MF.2 landed in the face
of Arab rifle fire to pick up the downed
Major General G.V.
who was the Chief of General Staff in
who had been forced down in his Short
Seaplane.A nearby Indian cavalry patrol
rescued the pilot from the Arabs. This
is probably the first instance of a down
airmen being rescued in this manner. In
this month the RNAS pilot in the
Dardanelles was awarded the Victoria
Cross for the same feat.
December 1st - Fliegerabteilung No.2
under the command of Hauptmann von
Auleck leaves San Stefano for Baghdad.
The FA is equipped with ten aircraft of
which four are Pfalz parasol aircraft.
December 4th - The Siege of Kut begins.
December 7th - Captain H.A. Petre in the
Farman MF.7 is ordered to leave for
Basra along with many of the
mechanics. Captain H.A. Petre would
arrive later in Egypt where 1 Sqn
Flying Corps was building up to
operational strength. Later he would be
transferred to the Royal Flying Corps
and command a Training Squadron in
England. A BE2 also flew out of Kut.
Remaining in Kut were five RFC Officers,
most of the ground crews of A and B
Flights and three unserviceable
mechanics of the Mesopotamian Half
Flight are also stranded in the besieged
town. Defending Kut are troops of the
Indian and British Armies.